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Cops To Take On Aggressive, Distracted Drivers in 2013

After a year with seven fatal motor vehicle accidents, department targets those not paying attention.

Last year was one of the most deadly years on the roads in recent memories, leading the town police department to take action and ramp up enforcement on the roads. 

It's an initiative that really began in 2012, during which the department successfully undertook increased drunken driving enforcement. In 2013, according to Chief Ed Ecker's annual report, the department will focus on combating two other problems on the road -- driver inattention and aggressive drivers. 

The department made 257 arrests for DWI related offenses in 2012, 101 more than the 156 in 2011. Fifteen of those arrests were made by outside officers working in the town's jurisdiction under the Suffolk County District Attorney's DWI Task Force, which began at the beginning of summer.

"This was a significant and substantial increase in enforcement by the members of the uniform patrol division," Ecker said in an annual report released last week.

And while the total amount of accidents was down slightly — 870 versus 886 for the prior year — accidents with personal injury were up from 127 in 2011 to 140 in 2012.

Though there is a correlation between the increase in accidents with serious injuries, there was no one explanation for the high number of fatalities on the roads; seven within the town police jurisdiction (Please note, the attached spreadsheet reports the figure as eight, which include the death of a man in a Wainscott fire).

Only one of the fatalities — a single motorcycle accident in May — was alcohol-related. One was a suicide, two were caused by medical-related issues, and one was a hit-and-run. Ecker has said the only trend appears to be driver inattention.

The Village of East Hampton investigated a fatal accident, determining that driver inattention was the cause, as well.

Ecker wants to try and reduce the number of fatal and serious physical injury accidents by looking for aggressive driving and distracted driving, not just those who may be driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol. The department plans to use federal and state grants, such as the Sustained Traffic Enforcement Program, and Buckle Up New York, to help fund ramped up enforcement in targeted areas.

Meanwhile, off the roads, Ecker said the department did a better job in handling the quality of life issues facing the town, particularly in Montauk, during the 2012 summer season.

The department hired three more seasonal officers and increased State Liquor Authority-related enforcement, the chief said. Parking, taxi regulations, pedestrian safety, noise, overcrowding, litter and underage drinking were all areas of focus, he said.

The summer did indeed see an increase in town ordinance summonses and parking summonses, and arrests, as well as a decrease in assaults and altercations associated with quality of life issues, Ecker said.

The breakdown reported is:

  • 334 arrests for the Penal law (388 in 2011)
  • 5,197 Vehicle and Traffic law arrests (4,753)
  • 546 town ordinances issued (508 in 2011)
  • 6,516 parking summons (6,180 in 2011)

Other highlights that were met in 2012 include:

  • Cutting the amount of personnel time lost taken following on-duty injuries among the 62 officers, which fell from 22 in 2011 to 15 in 2012

RELATED: More Cops Getting Tasers in 2013

  • The department earned re-accreditation with the Division of Criminal Justice Services in April 2012, becoming the first department in New York State to be assessed under the new LEAP Audit program.

The department's goals for 2013 include:

  • Increase training and improve coordinated enforcement efforts for SLA/Alcohol Beverage Control violations, while increasing the accountability of licensed premises within town
  • Evaluate and improve department's Action Response Plans for all schools in town, and ensuring all officers receive updated active shooter training
pat February 21, 2013 at 01:49 PM
We should just leave two officers on the Napeague Stretch this summer, full time, to handle all the bad, distracted driving I have seen going back and forth.
Arnold Timer February 21, 2013 at 02:02 PM
I think "incompetence and indifference" more or less describes the mindset of a large percentage of drivers. I applaud our police actively cracking down on the idiocy and carelessness so often displayed on our roads. Its also important for the police to follow the rules; no handheld cell phones, no speeding (except for emergencies) and officers are frequently some of the worst offenders when it comes to rolling stops and no turn signals. Lead by example!
Ann February 21, 2013 at 02:42 PM
They will have their hands full in the summer.I seem to come in contact w/an aggressive driver every time I go out on the roads.I hope this includes cracking down on unlicensed drivers as well.
David Buda February 21, 2013 at 04:53 PM
I would like to read the number of vehicles impounded in 2012 (and 2011) in connection with serious MV violations (DWI, unlicensed driver, no insurance and/or registration).
Taylor K. Vecsey (Editor) February 21, 2013 at 05:21 PM
As requested (and much thanks to the EHTPD for providing the numbers so quickly): There were 92 impounds in 2012 and 78 in 2011. They weren't able to provide a breakdown beyond that right now as the officer who would handle that is on vacation.
Sophie7 February 21, 2013 at 08:00 PM
OMG, glad to hear this..only hope they really DO SOMETHING ABOUT THIS! EVery single day, i see some idiot chatting on phone...a guy this morning holding hi phone up as he texted and came around the corner or 27 and main at town pond....good thing i never pull up all the way to the light or I would have been toast. Aggressive driving is a theme here...all year round but exaggerated in summer for sure
ViralGrain February 22, 2013 at 12:50 AM
I've yet to be cut off or experience a bad driver who is latino, yet most times I see someone pulled over it seems to be a latino or a construction worker. Last summer was a nightmare to drive. I had to be on defense as soon as I went to pull out of the driveway. It seems like every time I went out that I had to pull a defensive maneuver to avoid an accident. To bad there wasn't a ticket for bad driving etiquette. Like not letting the other person in. Or when someone sees you trying to pull out they speed up so you can't. The police do a great job patrolling the main streets, however when it comes to neighborhood streets, people fly down them because they know there is little chance of any cops being on the roads there. Those streets are the streets that people are walking on, kids are playing and need people to slow down on them. Bicyclists and joggers should be ticketed also if they are obstructing traffic. It comes down to respect. Share the road, its a two way street.
Darren Gengarelly Sr. February 22, 2013 at 01:11 AM
Be thankful you were never hit by an uninsured motorist. Until recently a very large percentage of latinos were driving illegally because they were illegal themselves. My sister in-law was struck , injured along with wrecking her car. After her insurance covered it (because the illegal alien had no insurance) they promptly raised her rates due to her filing a claim. Even though it was not her fault. You may not like reality but you should acknowledge it.
ViralGrain February 22, 2013 at 03:35 AM
Was it not her fault because the person should not have beed driving in the first place or was the accident was totally not her fault? I bet other factors came into play that caused her insurance go up other then the other driver simply not having insurance. Years ago it was possible for those with out legal status to have and maintain a license registration and insurance. DMV used 911 as the excuse to change that policy and now make it next to impossible for an illegal to have a license. How ever they can still fly with in the states with their passport even if the visa is expired, board a bus or even rent a car which suplies insurance. Reality is people are sometimes going to drive with out insurance or a license and it doesn't matter if they are American or not. Don't hate the player. Hate the game. Hope she is O.K. Thats sucks. The person should not have been on the driving anyway which in my book supersedes any other possibility as to why her insurance went up. But insurance companies just want your money and will use any excuse to get it or not give it. If it truly wasn't her fault then it wouldn't hurt to find another insurer.
SadderBudweiser February 23, 2013 at 03:39 PM
While stopped waiting for a light to change at Sagg Main and Montauk hwy last fall I took a very unscientific survey. I was on my bicycle so it was easy to see into the vehicles heading west. Roughly 25 percent of the drivers were texting or looking at their handheld device. Another 25 percent were conversing on their handheld. That's right: a full 50 percent were distracted drivers. I was so amazed that I stayed for a couple more light change cycles just to verify this. This has to stop.

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